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Video: What Research Shows about Soft Skills
and what it means for your team (8 min)

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Soft skills and soft skill training are vital according to old and new research.

Think soft skills training is just a good idea?  Think again, because research clearly shows that soft skills are actually core skills needed for any organization to be successful.

The Classic Study by The Carnegie Institute 

Someone recently asked me about a study by Charles Riborg Mann with the Carnegie Foundation that we have referenced from time to time. The study suggests that 85% of a person’s job success is due to interpersonal skills and only 15% is due to technical knowledge.

While this study was conducted about 100 years ago in 1918, it is completely consistent with recent studies. The fact is that human nature has not changed in 100 years.

Just in case you are curious about the percentages … the numbers were based on the responses of 1500 engineers who were asked “What are the most important factors in determining probable success or failure in engineering?” They listed personal qualities seven times more frequently than technical knowledge or technique.


Recent Joint Study by Boston College, Harvard University, and the University of Michigan :  Returns to On-the-job Soft Skills Training 

A study of one of the largest employers in India endeavored to determine the benefit of soft skill training for female garment workers. The ladies were selected at random to receive training in areas such as communication skills and decision-making among others.

According to the study the soft-skill training program resulted in:

  • An increase of 12% in productivity due in part to lower turnover
  • A 256% return on investment (ROI) overall


Recent Study of HR Professionals Reveals Perceived Lack of Training Programs 

Fernando Cortez of Texas A&M University conducted a study on soft skills and employee retention.

The 10 soft skills listed in his study were:

  • Communication
  • Courtesy
  • Flexibility
  • Integrity
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Positive attitude
  • Professionalism
  • Responsibility
  • Team work
  • Work ethic

He surveyed 113 HR professionals and concluded that most of the soft skills needed in the workplace have little or no training programs available for further development. But is that the case?

We don’t think so. Here is why …

Each of these soft skills are influenced by a person’s personality style. For example, communication for a people-oriented person tends to be on a relational level versus communication for a task-oriented person who tends to interact on a more informational basis. Communication can be vastly improved between two people by simply increasing understanding of each other’s personality styles.

“Courtesy training” can be accomplished in part by teaching task-oriented people the importance of relating with those who are people-oriented in a little less direct and forceful manner (a bit more courtesy). In other words, participants can learn the power of using “please” and “thank you” in a world whose majority of people are, in fact, people-oriented.

Flexibility can be improved by teaching outgoing people to give some allowance for those who are more reserved to either process, analyze or acclimate in a given situation. At the same time, those who are reserved and more cautious can learn the benefit of becoming more willing to step up the pace and take action to meet the needs of their more outgoing co-workers.

It is not necessary to go through each of the 10 soft skills in the study to quickly see that DISC bridges the gap in the need for soft skill training. In fact, DISC provides a strong foundation for all soft skill development.

Our personality style is not a soft skill in itself, but it does influence the way we exercise our soft skills.

DISC training allows us to become aware of our own behavior and the behavior of others to promote healthy interaction based on real understanding.

DISC training is the most simple and effective way to understand personality styles and, additionally, boost soft skills.

  • What if you knew that all of your soft skills could be improved?
  • What if you knew that your productivity could be increased by 12 percent?
  • What if you knew that your return on investment (ROI) for training would be 256 percent?

The studies referenced in this article are not presented as direct proof that DISC training will result in any particular outcome. However, the studies certainly help build a case for any organization to invest in soft skills training – skills which are interwoven with personality styles in a very intricate way.

Learn about our DISC Certification Training

Learn about our DISC Profile Solutions

Can we help your team?

We offer the best DISC certification training available anywhere. Experience our best-in-class positive approach or have one of our master trainers come to your organization.

DISC Bridges Today’s “Soft Skills Gap”


by Patrick Pettibon

VP, Personality Insights, Inc.
Co-Founder, DiscoveryReport.com

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